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NOAA Scientist Creates New Way to Track Carbon Pollution

Climate

By Daniel Grossman

A new air sampling device may help scientists better track carbon pollution in the atmosphere. Listen here or read below:

As countries around the world commit to reducing emissions, measuring their carbon pollution is critical to tracking progress. Pieter Tans is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and he's invented a tool that might help.

The AirCore is a patented air sampling device that at first seems improbably simple: a steel tube—500 feet long and as thick as a chopstick—coiled up like a hose and sent into the stratosphere by helium balloon.

AirCore. Photo credit: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

At roughly a 100,000 feet, the balloon pops. Then a parachute deploys, slowing the AirCore's descent while it gathers samples from nearly every layer of the atmosphere.

"That's what AirCore does: we bring back the physical sample of a very long sliver of air all the way from nearly the very top of the atmosphere to the ground, and we put that through calibrated instruments," Tans said. "So we produce calibrated measurements."

Tans says it's this continuous air sample that makes AirCore more precise than satellites and ground-based instruments.

It's not yet ready for commercial use, but AirCore's simple design and accuracy may make it a more affordable and effective way to track global emissions of carbon dioxide.

Reporting credit: Justin Bull/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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